May 3rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The internet let us down, the company that banned Wednesdays, Weekend Whats, and Feel Good Friday.

The job of researching online extremism is both remarkably easy and brutally hard. It’s easy because, let’s face it, there’s no shortage of material. And it’s brutal because, let’s face it, there’s no shortage of material. These days, there’s nothing less surprising than the fact that the internet is drowning in an un-drainable cesspool of vicious animosity. But the fact that this is the way the internet evolved is quite depressing for those who have been clicking around this place since the early days. From Wired: The Existential Crisis Plaguing Online Extremism Researchers. “The past decade has been an exercise in dystopian comeuppance to the utopian discourse of the ’90s and ‘00s. Consider Gamergate, the Internet Research Agency, fake news, the internet-fueled rise of the so-called alt-right, Pizzagate, QAnon, Elsagate and the ongoing horrors of kids YouTube, Facebook’s role in fanning the flames of genocide, Cambridge Analytica, and so much more. ‘In many ways, I think it [the malaise] is a bit about us being let down by something that many of us really truly believed in.'”

+ The Atlantic’s Julie Beck talks to The Moms Who Were Extremely Online in 1993. “Anytime somebody in the group was going through something, somebody got something going for them. Just to show them: You’re not alone. It was huge to me at a time when I was sick. It stays with you forever, when people treat you like that.” (That early spirit of the internet is still there. It’s just harder to find, and a lot harder to maintain.)


Prime, The Pump

“Amazon single-handedly — and permanently — raised the bar for convenience in online shopping. That, in turn, forever changed the types of products shoppers were willing to buy online … But the idea came with huge risks, and it spurred real tension inside Amazon. Some managers resented that their projects appeared to be deprioritized for a secret program they knew little about. Others feared that Amazon’s top customers were going to abuse the program and ultimately bankrupt the company with soaring shipping costs.” ReCode: The making of Amazon Prime, the internet’s most successful and devastating membership program.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: The Jonah Hill-directed Mid90s follows a young kid who escapes a turbulent homelife when he makes a connection with a crew of skateboarders. It’s real enough to feel like a documentary, and Sunny Suljic is magnetic in the lead role. It’s a unique twist on a common coming of age theme. Check out Mid90s.

+ What to Screen: I love those Apple TV Aerial screensavers so much that I wanted to put them on my laptop too. Luckily, there’s an indie-app that let’s you do just that. I’ve had it installed for a long time and it works great. Check out Aerial.

+ What to Doc: Looking for a few good documentaries to watch over the weekend? Thrillist has a long list of The Absolute Best Documentaries on Netflix. And from HiConsumption, here are the 10 Best Outdoor Documentaries to Inspire Your Next Adventure. There’s no better way to enjoy the great outdoors!


Hump Shaker

“The policy was implemented in July last year. Since then, revenue at the Australian company has increased by 46%, and profits nearly tripled.” BBC: The Company That Banned Wednesdays.

+ “U.S. employers added a robust 263,000 jobs in April, suggesting that businesses have shrugged off earlier concerns that the economy might slow this year and now anticipate strong customer demand.” AP: Unemployment hits 49-year low as US employers step up hiring.

+ NYT: Why Wages Are Finally Rising, 10 Years After the Recession.


Beating the Meat

We may finally have an answer to the question: Where’s the Beef? It’s in the market for meatless products. Beyond Meat, purveyors of plant-based meat substitutes just smoked “the biggest IPO pop for a company with a market cap larger than $200 million that Wall Street has seen since the year 2000.” And it’s still cooking. (Meat hasn’t taken this much of a beating since the filming of Rocky.)


Different Strokes

Caster Semenya’s “body allegedly produces testosterone at a higher level than most women. On Wednesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that if Semenya wanted to continue to compete, she would be required to take medications to lower it.” It’s a decision that is sure to be contested and debated for years. WaPo’s Monica Hesse takes a really interesting look at the subject: We celebrated Michael Phelps’s genetic differences. Why punish Caster Semenya for hers? “Phelps possesses a disproportionately vast wingspan, for example. Double-jointed ankles give his kick unusual range. In a quirk that borders on supernatural, Phelps apparently produces just half the lactic acid of a typical athlete.”


Arc of History (South) Bends Toward Justice

“In a field of more than 20 candidates­—including six Senators, four Congressmen, two governors and a former Vice ­President—Buttigieg (pronounced Boot-edge-edge) has vaulted from near total obscurity toward the front of the Democratic pack, running ahead of or even with more established candidates and behind only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.” Time features Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten on the cover. Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Unlikely, Untested, Unprecedented Presidential Campaign.


Know Collusion!

WaPo: Trump says he and Putin discussed outcome of Mueller probe as part of hour-long phone conversation. “I sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and ended up as a mouse.” (Psst. Putin hacked our elections…)

+ WaPo: Watergate had the Nixon tapes. Mueller had Annie Donaldson’s notes.


Chalk Full of Nuts

“I assume the special ingredient was angel tears.” A fun, short video explaining Why the World’s Best Mathematicians Are Hoarding Chalk. “Once upon a time, not long ago, the math world fell in love … with a chalk. But not just any chalk! This was Hagoromo.”


Feel Good Friday

“Having followed the issue closely since I wrote my first book about climate change, thirty years ago, I think I can say that we’re in a remarkable moment, when, after years of languishing, climate concern is suddenly and explosively rising to the top of the political agenda. Maybe, though not certainly, it is rising fast enough that we’ll get real action.” Bill McKibben in The New Yorker: Notes from a Remarkable Political Moment for Climate Change.

+ Drone makes history by delivering organ for successful transplant.

+ “The five-year initiative funded by Benioff and his wife, Lynne, will conduct academic research, provide testimony and fact sheets, and train people who have been homeless as expert speakers.” Marc Benioff gives $30M to study homelessness.

+ Video game teaches women to operate robots set to take their garment jobs.

+ Maine becomes the first state to ban Styrofoam.

+ WaPo: A man put his patriotic tie on eBay. Then he learned the buyer needed it for a citizenship ceremony.

+ Deaf man adopts deaf rescue puppy and teaches him sign language. (Both my dogs and I have perfect hearing, and I can’t even teach them not to shit in the house…)

+ AirPod survives trip through man who swallowed it.

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